Texas Agriculture November 20, 2015 : Page 11

OUTSTANDING YOUNG FARMER & RANCHER FINALISTS Galen Franz Victoria Timothy and Lindy Gertson Lissie Marcus and Amy Halfmann Garden City Hardworking young farmers, ranchers honored By Jessica Domel Field Editor Whether the sun is rising, setting or on the other side of the world, young Texas farmers and ranchers can be found sharing with others their faith and love for both Texas agriculture and family. This year’s class of Outstanding Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) recognized by Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) is no different. They work hard. They love the land. And they serve both TFB and their communities with devotion. Each year, TFB’s YF&R competi-tion recognizes the accomplishments of some of the state’s top agricultural leaders between the ages of 18 and 35 and rewards them for their hard work and determination to succeed. The 2015 Outstanding YF&R fi-nalists are: Galen Franz of Victoria; Timothy and Lindy Gertson of Lis-sie; and Marcus and Amy Halfmann of Garden City. The finalists were chosen from all 13 TFB state districts with the top three advancing to the state compe-tition. The winner of this competition will be named at the TFB annual meeting Dec. 5-7 in Arlington. Galen Franz and his wife, Leslye, grow rice, Napa cabbage, hay and wheat in Victoria County. They also raise cattle and own a rice dryer. Galen is the president of Victoria County Farm Bureau. He and Leslye have three daugh-ters: Kate, Claire and Lexi. The Gertsons grow rice in Whar-ton County. They also occasionally grow sorghum, soybeans and wheat. To help market and store their rice, Timothy owns a rice dryer. Lin-dy is a registered nurse at a local hospital. Timothy is president of the Whar-ton County Farm Bureau. He and Lindy have two sons: Ja-cob and Nathan. Marcus and Amy Halfmann of Garden City grow cotton, sesame, hay and wheat in the Midland area. They also raise cattle. Marcus has a custom farming business on the side. Amy is a dietitian. She also works at the Mother’s Day Out program the couple’s two children attend sev-eral days a week. Marcus is vice president of the Midland County Farm Bureau. The couple has a son, Byler; and daughter, Blakley. The winner of this year’s Out-standing YF&R contest will take home: the title to a 2016 ¾ ton 4x4 Chevrolet pickup truck with a diesel engine, courtesy of Texas Farm Bu-reau Insurance Companies; a $5,000 cash award, courtesy of Farm Credit; use of a Case IH Farmall or Maxxum series tractor for one year; a $750 service voucher, courtesy of Chevro-let; and a plaque representative of the award. The two runners-up will receive: a $500 cash award, courtesy of Southern Farm Bureau Life Insur-ance Company; a new pair of Justin Boots, courtesy of Justin Brands, Inc.; a power tool valued at $200, courtesy of Grainger; and a plaque representative of the award. All three finalists will receive an expense-paid trip to the TFB annual meeting Dec. 5-7 in Arlington. The state winner also will rep-resent Texas in the Achievement Award competition at the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. in January. The winner of the Achievement Award will receive their choice of a 2016 Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra truck, courtesy of Chevrolet. The three national finalists will receive a Case IH Farmall tractor, courtesy of Case IH, as well as a $2,500 cash price and $500 in STIHL merchandise. In addition to the Outstanding YF&R contest, TFB also hosts the Excellence in Agriculture (EIA) com-petition to recognize the young men and women who are involved in ag-riculture, but do not earn their in-come directly from their own farm or ranch enterprises. The winner of the 2015 EIA con-test also will be named at the TFB annual meeting in Arlington. This year’s finalists are: Cody and Erika Archie of Gatesville; Scott and Sara Holloway of Bowie; and Jake and Brandi Murphree of Hamilton. Information on both the EIA and YF&R contests can be found under the “YF&R & Leadership Programs” tab on www.TexasFarmBureau.org. N OVEMBER 20, 2015 11

Outstanding Young Farmer & Rancher Finalist

Jessica Domel

Hardworking Young Farmers, Ranchers Honored

Whether the sun is rising, setting or on the other side of the world, young Texas farmers and ranchers can be found sharing with others their faith and love for both Texas agriculture and family.

This year’s class of Outstanding Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) recognized by Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) is no different.

They work hard. They love the land. And they serve both TFB and their communities with devotion.

Each year, TFB’s YF&R competition recognizes the accomplishments of some of the state’s top agricultural leaders between the ages of 18 and 35 and rewards them for their hard work and determination to succeed.

The 2015 Outstanding YF&R finalists are: Galen Franz of Victoria; Timothy and Lindy Gertson of Lissie; and Marcus and Amy Halfmann of Garden City.

The finalists were chosen from all 13 TFB state districts with the top three advancing to the state competition.

The winner of this competition will be named at the TFB annual meeting Dec. 5-7 in Arlington.

Galen Franz and his wife, Leslye, grow rice, Napa cabbage, hay and wheat in Victoria County. They also raise cattle and own a rice dryer.

Galen is the president of Victoria County Farm Bureau.

He and Leslye have three daughters: Kate, Claire and Lexi.

The Gertsons grow rice in Wharton County. They also occasionally grow sorghum, soybeans and wheat.

To help market and store their rice, Timothy owns a rice dryer. Lindy is a registered nurse at a local hospital.

Timothy is president of the Wharton County Farm Bureau.

He and Lindy have two sons: Jacob and Nathan.

Marcus and Amy Halfmann of Garden City grow cotton, sesame, hay and wheat in the Midland area. They also raise cattle.

Marcus has a custom farming business on the side.

Amy is a dietitian. She also works at the Mother’s Day Out program the couple’s two children attend several days a week.

Marcus is vice president of the Midland County Farm Bureau.

The couple has a son, Byler; and daughter, Blakley.

The winner of this year’s Outstanding YF&R contest will take home: the title to a 2016. ton 4x4 Chevrolet pickup truck with a diesel engine, courtesy of Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Companies; a $5,000 cash award, courtesy of Farm Credit; use of a Case IH Farmall or Maxxum series tractor for one year; a $750 service voucher, courtesy of Chevrolet; and a plaque representative of the award.

The two runners-up will receive: a $500 cash award, courtesy of Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company; a new pair of Justin Boots, courtesy of Justin Brands, Inc.; a power tool valued at $200, courtesy of Grainger; and a plaque representative of the award.

All three finalists will receive an expense-paid trip to the TFB annual meeting Dec. 5-7 in Arlington.

The state winner also will represent Texas in the Achievement Award competition at the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. in January.

The winner of the Achievement Award will receive their choice of a 2016 Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra truck, courtesy of Chevrolet.

The three national finalists will receive a Case IH Farmall tractor, courtesy of Case IH, as well as a $2,500 cash price and $500 in STIHL merchandise.

In addition to the Outstanding YF&R contest, TFB also hosts the Excellence in Agriculture (EIA) competition to recognize the young men and women who are involved in agriculture, but do not earn their income directly from their own farm or ranch enterprises.

The winner of the 2015 EIA contest also will be named at the TFB annual meeting in Arlington.

This year’s finalists are: Cody and Erika Archie of Gatesville; Scott and Sara Holloway of Bowie; and Jake and Brandi Murphree of Hamilton.

Information on both the EIA and YF&R contests can be found under the “YF&R & Leadership Programs” tab on www.TexasFarmBureau.org

Galen Franz

Wife: Leslye
Grows: Rice, Napa cabbage, hay and wheat. Raises cattle.
Location: Victoria
Children: Kate, Claire and Lexi

Whether he’s checking on his rice, tending to his cabbage or working with his cattle, one thing is for sure–Galen Franz loves his job.

Galen grows rice, Napa cabbage, hay and wheat in Victoria County. He also raises cattle.

“It seems to work well for us,” Galen said.

Galen is a fourth generation rice farmer. His family started out with the crop in the Houston area and then moved to Victoria.

He’s now the last rice farmer in Victoria County.

“I would say it’s lonely, but then again, it’s self-gratifying,” Galen said. “We grow a good product of high quality, and we enjoy doing it.”

Like many other Texas rice farmers, Galen often worries about the availability of water, which is vital to his crop.

“We operate off of ground water, and that’s running short as well,” Galen said. “We’re dealing with aging irrigation systems and the drought that we’ve had in the past few years. All of those factors have weighed in heavily.”

Over the years, Galen has made improvements to the canal system that brings the water to his farms. He’s used the latest technology to improve his fields so they use the water that is available efficiently.

It’s also helpful in creating habitats for waterfowl.

Galen has also doubled his rice drying and storage facility and streamlined his cattle operations.

“We also now wean our own cattle instead of selling them directly off the cow,” Galen said. “We market the calves and the cows as packer cows. They’re delivered straight to a packing house instead of going to auction barns.”

Galen and his wife, Leslye, also opted to add Napa cabbage to their crop rotation in the last year.

The cabbage grows well in Galen’s sandy soil and can be packaged in the field—eliminating the need for a packing shed.

But one thing it does require is labor.

“The seed is very expensive. Instead of planting the crop in the field and catching a freeze, we start them in a greenhouse,” Galen said. “When they’re up and going, we bring them out and hand-transplant them.”

The Franzes and their employees then must hand-hoe in between the cabbages to keep weeds out. When they’re ready for harvest, they’re handpicked out of the field and shipped directly to buyers.

It’s something the Franzes’ children—Kate, Claire and Lexi—enjoy.

“I try to involve them as much as I can,” Galen said. “I really enjoy having them out here.”

The kids can often be found riding in the truck with Galen and Leslye, on the combine cutting rice or even working the family’s Brahman-Charolais cross cattle.

“It’s really wonderful,” Leslye said. “The girls get to come out here and experience nature and see hard work. They see when you work hard, it pays off.”

That lesson doesn’t just stay in the field with the Franz children. Galen takes it to local schools with the Victoria County Farm Bureau (CFB) during the CFB’s annual youth leadership day.

“A lot of these kids don’t know about agriculture,” Galen said. “There are jobs out there for these kids, and they’re good jobs. It’s a big industry a lot of people around don’t know about.”

He also speaks on his own to private schools in the area about growing rice and his operation.

Galen also takes part in a lunch the CFB hosts at the local senior citizens center, where over 100 pounds of rice were donated. He also donates a large amount of rice to their local food bank to help those in need in the community.

Galen is president of the Victoria CFB.

“There are more issues that come up every day that you feel like you can be a part of. You can help steer the organization,” Galen said. “When leaders of Farm Bureau speak, everybody seems to listen.”

Timothy and Lindy Gertson

Grows: Rice, sorghum, soybeans and wheat.
Location: Lissie
Children: Jacob and Nathan

Be an innovator. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Following the sage advice of his grandfather, Timothy Gertson is growing his business and his family.

Timothy grows rice, grain sorghum, soybeans and wheat in Wharton County.

“It’s a good way to raise a family,” Timothy said.

Timothy is a fifth generation rice farmer, but didn’t wait to inherit the family business. Instead, he partnered with his cousin to start their own farming operation.

“I grew up watching a lot of fine examples of my dad, his brothers and my grandfather,” Timothy said. “It’s a really honest living.”

Following the example his grandfather set for him, Timothy tries new things and works to improve what he has.

This year, they’re adding organic corn to their operation.

“We try to be diversified. The markets are stronger for different crops,” Timothy said.

Although Timothy is growing an organic crop, he isn’t doing so because he believes eating organically is better than eating GMOs. Instead, he’s growing it to meet rising demand.

“The world can’t be fed organically. It’s impossible to grow that much food,” Timothy said. “But there is a market, and if I feel like I can share in that, then I’m going to try.”

Timothy’s start in farming, like many others, had its challenges. He and his cousin took over a neglected farm with dilapidated irrigation wells and canals.

They made improvements to the place and continue to work to make their farm operate as efficiently as possible.

“We auto-steer all of our tractors now. We’re yield mapping our crops,” Timothy said. “We’re doing GPS surveys to have topographic maps of all our crops. We just invested in GPS equipment to no longer do laser leveling, but do GPS leveling.”

GPS leveling allows Timothy to save money when moving dirt to improve field drainage.

Drainage, as well as the availability of water, is important to Timothy as a rice farmer.

“I’ve got to be out in every one of my fields every day checking water, making sure I’m not wasting any,” Timothy said.

One way Timothy is hoping to save time is by using a drone.

“I plan on using it to scout my fields and help with water control,” Timothy said. “There are a lot of possibilities.”

Timothy is constantly researching and considering new crops and techniques.

He also works to involve his sons, Jacob and Nathan. Timothy and Lindy are expecting a third son in February.

“I grew up on the farm, and I’ve loved it,” Timothy said. “I want my boys to be able to have the same opportunity.”

Lindy is a registered nurse at a local hospital. She grew up in Orlando, Fla., but she feels the decision to raise her kids on the farm was a great one.

“It’s been a new experience for me,” Lindy said. “I love seeing how much our boys love living out here and how much they love interacting with their dad.”

Both Lindy and Timothy teach Sunday school at their church.

Timothy and his father also help out their local Habitat for Humanity.

He also serves on the board of the Rice Foundation and on the USA Rice Federation Sustainability Committee.

Timothy is president of the Wharton County Farm Bureau and is chairman of their Ag in the Classroom program.

“Farm Bureau is a diverse organization,” Timothy said. “You have the ag advocacy and you have the lobbying arm of Farm Bureau. You also have the leadership programs. There are a lot of things Farm Bureau is very good at.”

Marcus and Amy Halfmann

Grows: Cotton, sesame, wheat and hay. Raise cattle.
Location: Garden City
Children: Byler and Blakley

With a cap on his head and his family by his side, Midland County area farmer Marcus Halfmann is living his dream.

Marcus grows both long and short staple cotton, sesame, wheat and hay in the area near Midkiff and Garden City, where he and his family live. They also raise black Angus cattle.

“I’m probably one of the luckiest guys in the world,” Marcus said. Farming has long been in Marcus’ and his wife Amy’s families. But tradition hasn’t stopped the couple from venturing out and making it on their own.

When Marcus and Amy began their own farming operation, they leased property and did whatever they could to make it work. At the time, it meant both of them working outside jobs to make ends meet.

Over time, the couple has added acreage to the land they farm, which has allowed them to spend more time on the farm and with their family.

One of the improvements Marcus has made is the addition of drip tape irrigation systems to the land he farms.

“That was one of the most important things,” Marcus said. “Without it in West Texas, you don’t have much of a crop eight out of 10 years.”

They also added GPS systems to their tractors and expanded the operation to include long-staple, or Pima, cotton, which is used for high-end sheets and fabrics. Pima cotton also nets more money in the marketplace than traditional cotton.

Cotton root rot also prompted Marcus to plant sesame.

“The price was pretty good. The deer and rabbits won’t eat it, and it is root rot-resistant,” Marcus said.

The Halfmanns also have to deal with oil and gas activity around the areas they farm.

“The oil activity here in West Texas was crazy busy until the drop in the oil market. On one particular farm, they’ve taken out over 80 acres right through the heart of the farm,” Marcus said. “That’s tough.”

Marcus and Amy haven’t let hurdles hinder their success.

Marcus does custom farm work for others in the area. In addition, he saves money by using cotton burrs, or gin trash, as compost to help his crops grow.

Amy is a registered dietitian and offers nutrition counseling to nursing homes, Head Start programs and to individuals where she’s able to use what she’s learned both in the classroom and on-the-farm to help people.

“When I do get a question from a client, the best thing I can do is lay out the research. Ultimately, it’s their responsibility, but I can let them know that my family eats GMOs and my family grows GMOs,” Amy said. “Coming from a professional, I think a lot of times that helps them feel safer about eating things like that.”

She is also a stay-at-home mom who works two days a week at the Mother’s Day Out program their kids attend. She helps Marcus out on the farm doing book work, chores and tending to whatever tasks need to be handled. She’s also the storytime coordinator for the community library in nearby Midkiff.

Marcus serves on his co-op’s board of directors, is president of the Parish Council at his church, is a member of the fire department and vice president of the Midland County Farm Bureau.

“Farm Bureau plays an important role,” Marcus said. “They help protect us against laws that some people don’t understand the ramifications of.”

When they’re not volunteering, you can find the Halfmann family together at their farm, watching over their crops, cattle and, of course, their kids. Their son, Byler, is four. Their daughter, Blakley, is two.

“We love our kids being out and being a part of this operation,” Marcus said. “It’s important to teach them integrity, work ethics and good overall work habits.”

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Outstanding+Young+Farmer+%26+Rancher+Finalist/2333457/282939/article.html.

Previous Page  Next Page


Publication List
Using a screen reader? Click Here